Book Review – Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

About the Book

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America about the extraordinary bond between two girls driven apart by circumstances but relentless in their search for one another.

‘A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies’ 
Huffington Post

An electrifying debut novel – the story of the unbreakable bond between two girls driven apart, and their journeys across continents to find each other again.

Poornima and Savitha, born in poverty, have known little kindness in their lives until they meet as teenagers. When an act of devastating cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend.

Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face apparently insurmountable obstacles on their travels through the darkest corners of India’s underworld and across an ocean, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who refuse to lose the hope that burns within.

Comments (Some comments may contain spoilers)

All participants expressed how harrowing and difficult it was to read ‘Girls Burn Brighter’.

The hopelessness of poor and illiterate people who are caught in this trade. The power of humans when a strong friendship is at the basis.

Savitha is portrayed early in the novel as the stronger and more emotionally in control than Poornima Through the story as each woman experiences (endures) abusive treatment, Poornima becomes the more resilient and focused personality.

Savitha’s father loved her dearly in spite of his personal weaknesses. Savitha was desperate to provide for her family. Poornima’s father was almost constant in his treatment of her.

The group felt that in the whole the book the only Indian male portrayed well was Savitha’s father. Many in the group found the writing and editing “clunky” throughout the story. The ‘stories’ that were told throughout the book were felt by the group to be the only “uplifting” pieces of literature throughout the book.

The group felt the book would have been received so much better and also more helpful for victims of this trade if at the end of the book the author or publishing company included a list of organisations that combat this trade and provide support to victims.

All in all a very emotionally difficult book to read for all participants.

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